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Archive for the ‘Visits’ Category

As I’ve said before, this year’s Move It On Project is about revisiting and evaluating old projects and if any get finished during the month, then that’s a bonus. However, we have our first finish! I did say last week that there was a very good chance of this one being finished as it was pretty close already, with only the laborious job of marking out the diamond grid of background stitches to complete.

I ended up by counting the warp and weft threads to work out where to place the markings as it was more accurate than measuring but even then, I made a mistake that I didn’t spot until I was two columns in and so they aren’t quite exact, but close enough for a Holiday Journal piece.

Adding the pairs of straight stitches over the top was quick and easy, even if the finished motif does look like a grumpy moth!

With Mothers’ Day fast approaching I’ve had my usual commission from a friend to make a card for their mother and my starting point was a postcard sized piece featuring lace, tea bags and painted lace flower trims I started in a workshop I did with Fran Holmes back in November 2019.

I decided that it didn’t need much doing to it apart from stems and leaves for the daisies and took it with me today for some ‘plein air’ stitching when we went for a walk in Sherwood Forest. We were joined for lunch on this bench by a very confident robin and a cheeky little woodmouse, both of whom were well rewarded with titbits.

I’m using fishbone stitch for the leaves, which is pretty dense and as a result the closeness of the stitching holes at the edges of the leaves is shredding the delicate tea bags despite my best efforts.

Just going to have to hope that the stitches and the underlying bondaweb can keep it all together!

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The project I’ve chosen to focus on for this month’s Move It On is a relatively new one and the reason that my Kew Memory Journal has stalled. I’ve already done four of the six pieces for it and last spring I started the fifth, based on a photo I took of one of Dale Chihuly’s Persian Chandeliers which was installed in the Temperate House at Kew Gardens in 2019.

I drew out the pattern of the glazing bars on a piece of indigo dyed cotton and as of last April, using thin white ribbon for the thicker bars and whipped back stitch for the thinner ones, had got as far as this:

The fun bit was next – creating the frilly circles of the chandelier – but at this point I froze up because I didn’t think I could stitch anything that comes close to representing Chihuly’s amazing art. I had various ideas about making wired edged needle lace slips, crochet circles using my tiny Victorian metal crochet hook and woven spiders web stitches. I reminded myself that I was only aiming for my impression of the chandelier but I was really reluctant to start and instead, put it to one side.

So this is where the Move It On project will hopefully help. By the end of the month I should know whether I can make this work or whether I abandon it and create a different fifth piece for the Memory Journal. The hard bit is going to be actually making that start!

As I’ve had the Inktense blocks out, colouring some pelmet vilene for the Ribbon Rose Brooch kits, I thought it was the ideal opportunity to stitch an embroidered centre for a silver Victorian brooch I’ve had for some time. I think these type of brooches were originally designed to be set with coins, but the empty frame makes an ideal surround for a piece of miniature textile art!

I went with my favourite colour palette and one of my favourite themes as there are so many stitches which suggest waving seaweed such as the feather stitch and threaded chain stitch…

…and a line of Palestrina stitch to fill in the gap on the right.

I’m very happy with the stitching but I feel it’s a bit flat, so I’m toying with ideas for a bit of extra dimensionality. I think it might be a bit too small to add even very tiny pieces of sea glass so I was thinking beads or possibly picots at the bottom. Or possibly a little silver fish… Any thoughts?

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After a very grey and wet Christmas period it was great to finally get out for a bit of a leg stretch yesterday along the beach at Withernsea. Since I first went last September to see the Pebble of the Day exhibition at the lighthouse, it’s become a firm favourite for a seaside walk and beachcomb. I love the massive variety of pebbles you find on the beach due to the underlying boulder clay and I was lucky enough to find a few fossils. I especially love the little one in the middle which looks like it has a set of tiny teeth!

I always seem to find really big chunks of sea glass at Withernsea. The slab of safety glass is an unusually large inch and a half by an inch and there are at least two other pieces of a similar size.

I also found a few nice pieces of beach china, of which at least two will be perfect for china pots for woven feathered chain stitch plants.

I’ve also been thinking about the direction I want to go in 2022 and I’ve decided that I’m going to focus on unfinished projects; revisiting them to see if there is anything to be gained by moving forward. So my idea is to pick one project a month and focus on it around other things that need doing. At the end of the month I’ll hopefully know whether it’s worth continuing with or not, rather than setting myself a potentially unrealistic goal of finishing it. A finish is a bonus but even if that hasn’t happened, I should have moved it on.

There are some very tempting projects in my box: buttonhole rings, Blackwell House of Arts and Crafts sycamore keys and some Casalguidi work…

…embroidered book covers and crazy patchwork…

…and a few kits from various places.

But first, it’s panto costume time (oh yes it is…) and the big item I’ve been putting off. This:

…needs to become Dame Durden’s opening dress for Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club’s 2022 panto Jack and the Beanstalk. Opening on the 11th January – hopefully, Covid cases and restrictions permitting. Time to bite the bullet and set scissors to fabric.

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Last week in the middle of our mini heatwave I had a day out to Withernsea Lighthouse with my friend Debbie to see the ‘From Withernsea With Love’ exhibition. It’s a collaboration between Karen Turner who is a talented textile artist and Dean Wilson, a local poet and lover of pebbles and other beachcombed items. Debbie has blogged about our trip here with much better photos and text, so I’ll just say that we had a fabulous day, the beachcombing was excellent, the fish and chips delicious and the exhibition was well worth the trip.

Karen’s stitching is exquisite. I’m lucky enough to own two of her completely hand stitched quilts and there was something familiar yet different about her pebbles quilt, featuring forty nine of Dean’s pebble finds.

Each pebble is surrounded by a ring of stitching like a halo and they are instantly recognisable from the photos and the stones themselves, displayed in the nearby cabinet.

She also embroidered exquisite copies of some of the pieces of sea washed pottery that Dean also found and they were displayed with the pottery in a glass fronted corner cabinet that made them almost impossible to photograph.

However, each piece was detailed in a sketchbook…

…which was as fascinating and beautiful as the pieces themselves.

After our climb up the 144 steps of the lighthouse, fish and chips and obligatory beachcomb, we retired to the shady lighthouse garden with a drink from the on site café and I did some stitching on a piece of felt I recovered from a felted vessel I made ages ago which I had never been happy with.

I ironed it flat and cut it into a curved shape before blanket stitching it with a very brightly coloured variegated thread which happily was toned down by the felt.

Then I finished off the woven spiders’ webs I’d planned to encrust it with.

Liking it much better now.

I believe the ‘From Withernsea With Love’ exhibition is on until early October but only at weekends now. Well worth a trip in the the wilds of Holderness, especially if you enjoy beachcombing and eating fish and chips on the beach!!

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Most of my stitching time last week was given up to organising a selection of my upcycled jewellery to go into The Old Stables Studio in Horncastle and knitting some socks (exciting!) and a lace scarf which I can’t show because it’s a Christmas present so things are a bit sparse this week. However, I did finish the last locket – this time with a peacock feathers design.

The feathers start with two nested detached chain stitches in royal blue and turquoise with a dark blue French knot in the centre.

Then I added straight stitches in a very fine green silk thread all the way round and gave the feathers split stitch quills…

…before setting it into the locket.

Thursday was the most perfect day for a trip to Horncastle with the autumn light turning the fields and trees of the Wolds golden. The Old Stables Studio is literally just off the Market Square and is a hidden away gem with a very tempting looking fabric/sewing shop next door.

I did have a little look round the town before I headed home and picked up a fantastic needlelace book from a second hand book shop, so there may be some needlelace samples coming shortly.

But instead of clearing old projects, I’ve started something else new instead. Inspired by Debbie’s recent return to the Print to Stitch workshop we did at Guild with Jan Dowson in February 2019, I’ve hunted out one of the other pieces I printed at that workshop, a medieval tile based one.

Trimmed, it now looks like this:

I wouldn’t normally show the back, but it’s basted to an unusual piece of felt I made during lockdown.

Before lockdown, my youngest managed to put a three cornered tear in the knee of her grey 100% wool M&S school trousers (charity shop bargain!). I had been trying to work out how to invisibly mend this tear for a while, but as the school year wore on, I realised that she wouldn’t be going back to school until September, when she would be Y11. At her school, the Y11s wear black trousers and sweatshirts, not grey like Years 7-10 so the trousers would be redundant. She wouldn’t wear them in real life and they couldn’t go to a charity shop. But they could go into the washing machine with a load of towels and become fabulous felt which they did! Oh waste not, want not!!

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Slow progress on the Reeds piece for my Kew Memory Journal but still progress – remembering to move forward one stitch at a time.

But other things have been happening. A beach day on the Lincolnshire coast with my youngest before she returned to school.

Experimenting with embroidery on a cut silk cocoon…

…and a chunk of driftwood.

At the moment it looks like an embarrassed octopus but I plan to add bead, pearl and coral dangles to the ends of the ‘legs’ and stick it down close to follow the contours of the driftwood chunk. I love the black scribbly spalting on the bottom. Then, hopefully, it will become a pendant.

I found a couple of commercial pouches when I was clearing out a box and offered them to the friend I made the pouches for a few months ago.

She asked me to add embroidery to the fronts so she could use them for tarot/oracle cards. A triskele on the silver one and a dragonfly on the indigo. Triskele first with a base layer of chain stitch in lovely heavy weight variegated green perle.

Then whipped in a green/pink/copper variegated perle to give it even more weight…

…before blanket stitching it onto the front of the pouch.

I’ve drawn the dragonfly out onto some shibori dyed cotton I did at a course years ago but have stalled looking for a scrap of iridescent fabric I want to use for the wings. I was sure I knew where it was, but am having an increasingly nasty feeling that I ‘tidied it away’ during the recent deep clean of the lounge…

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It seems that a lot of the last couple of weeks has been about creating cards. As well as the Fathers’ Day card I showed in the last post, I was also asked to make a first birthday card…

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…and a birthday card and anniversary card. For the birthday card I decided to revisit one of the experiments I did with some Angelina fibres, rubber stamps and an iron back in February 2012 and still have hanging about! I just added some simple gold herringbone and straight stitches. The Angelina is so blingy that I think less is definitely more.

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The anniversary card is one of the dozens of prints I took from Chris Gray’s huge wooden printing block collection when she led a workshop for our Embroiderers’ Guild back in 2016.

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I used just three threads in shades of green and purple to fill in the design with chain stitch, satin stitch, fishbone stitch, detached chain stitch and of course, french knots.

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Having had all these to put together, as well as one for my own dad, is partly why the pulled thread I had planned for the Kew memory Journal hasn’t progressed very far. The weather also hasn’t helped as I’m stitching in cream on cream…

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… and good daylight is a must. It just hasn’t been nice enough to sit outside and stitch very often.

Once I’m in the swing of counting I find pulled thread work has a very pleasing rhythm but unfortunately it seems that I’ve just got settled when at least one member of the family needs something – usually feeding!

I wanted a heavily raised stitch to echo the raked gravel of the Japanese Zen garden where Chihuly’s Niijima Floats were exhibited and I think the Diagonal Raised Band I chose does that very successfully.

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The picture has been transferred onto silk with transfer medium and will be stitched into the top corner.

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Now all I need is some decent light and a family who can feed themselves…!

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Bullion roses first. In fact this is quite an old finish (early lockdown rather than later!) but one I haven’t blogged about at all. I began another tiny locket insert on silk carrier rod well before last Christmas, using silk buttonhole twist to make bullion knot roses.

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It stalled as other projects took priority but finally at the end of April I decided to crack on and get it finished.

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I was aiming for an asymmetric look but without it appearing to be unfinished and I am very pleased with the result which you can find here in my Etsy shop.

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Back to the Tattershall Castle memory journal. ‘It Rained’ is completed and I am really pleased with it. First the split stitch leaves and couched perle thread stalks.

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Then I added the raindrops. Flat backed teardrop shaped beads with an iridescent coating. They were the perfect finishing touch and I think this might be my favourite of all of the Tattershall pieces.

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This meant that I was now ready to assemble the memory journal, put it away and move onto the third one, documenting my visit to Kew last summer. I blanket stitched a border around the bollock purse…

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…and stitched into it with tiny stab stitches to attach it to the page.

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Everything else went on really smoothly but then I came to the canvaswork piece…

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Unfortunately I trimmed it really close to the edge and this has given me no leeway now I need to stitch it in place. I’m pretty sure that even if I try to invisibly stitch it down the handling will be enough to loosen the last thread on each edge and in any case, I don’t want the spiky bare canvas as an edging.

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So near and yet so far! So, dear readers, any thoughts, ideas or inspiration? All suggestions very gratefully received!

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I’m not exactly sure where the last week has gone. A lot of it gobbled up in household chores and eBay/Etsy listings, I suspect. I know it’s important not to get obsessed by what we have or haven’t done given the continuing situation but I am a bit irritated with myself that I haven’t progressed further with my stitching projects.

The last Tattershall piece, ‘It Rained’, has had a few more veins added.

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I’ve also had what I modestly consider a genius idea to attach the micro quilt so you can still see the back. I stitched on press studs!

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And then discovered it wasn’t centred… :o(

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The canvaswork needlebook is also finished. Well, the canvaswork bit of it is and I also made the closure cords.

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Next is the making up and I’ve stalled on that. I know I’m not alone in this but why is it that we so often baulk at the finishing off stage of a project? I really need a needlebook too, so you’d think that would give me the incentive to crack on and get it finished, but no, I’m dragging my heels like my youngest when reminded that she has flute practise to do instead of WhatsApping her friends.

I’ve made a few more bits of upcycled jewellery as well. A silver 1970s coin pendant, vintage carved bone disc and single silver earring…

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…became this:

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Available here in my Etsy shop.

I also restored a lovely 1950s diamante bib necklace section with a replacement diamante (the small blue one in the middle) and some reclaimed chain…

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…to make it into this:

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Also available here in my Etsy shop.

In fact, not too shabby for a week’s work, I suppose!

 

 

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The last Tattershall piece is underway and coming out exactly as I wanted, even though I wasn’t sure what I did want! I’d set my heart on using a transfer I’d made from a photo in the booklet of some of Tattershall’s bricks but it was what to do with it that had me baffled. Then I thought back to the first visit with my youngest and I immediately recalled the rain storm which we sat out under one of the trees by the shop. Leaves and raindrops, I remembered and it all fell into place.

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The background is some more of the batik I did at our last Guild meeting and the tiny leaves are cut out of some hand painted fabric backed with stabiliser.

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I’m stitching them down with split stitch veins in fine silk before I add the raindrops.

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I’ve also done a fair bit more on the Bright Pyramids needle book. The double dark blue line is the spine and I’m already onto the last hearts and flowers panel. After that I just have four more rows of long-legged cross stitch:  two vertical and two horizontal along the whole width to do before making it up.

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Am still swearing but less often, which must mean I am improving.

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I made a little pair of upcycled butterfly earrings recently which sold to a friend almost as soon as I’d posted about them on Instagram.

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I then had a lot of fun turning a card booklet which had contained a free sample tea bag into bespoke packaging for them!

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The felt on the left is to cushion them when the booklet is shut.

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Contact details on the back and a ribbon attached to the spine with a miniature paper fastener as a closure.

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A very satisfying little make.

 

 

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